Statement Regarding Jersey Innovation Fund Review

I wish to echo the disappointment and dismay of the Chief Minister with the findings of the Comptroller & Auditor General in respect of the Jersey Innovation Fund. That dismay is of course shared by members of this Assembly and many Islanders. However, whilst disappointed, I was not surprised. The report documented many of my own concerns, concerns that I had expressed on repeated occasions to the JIF Accounting Officer, the Chief Minister, my own Accounting Officer and the Chief Executive of the States and others. As the Comptroller and Auditor General recognised, the Jersey Innovation Fund was – and remains – a positive idea. Our future economic growth and diversification depends on competition and innovation. The portfolio of Innovation was given to me in November 2014. However legal responsibility for the Jersey Innovation Fund was not transferred by this Assembly to me until January 2016. This delay prevented me from being able to discharge that role. That said, as the Assistant Chief Minister with current responsibility for Innovation, I accept the recommendations of the Comptroller & Auditor General in full. I have not been able to comment on the operational changes to JIF since the C&AG launched her inquiry – to do so would prejudice her work. However, I can confirm that many of the recommendations have already been implemented because of the actions taken last year. The Chief Minister last week committed to a review of political involvement with JIF and separately, through the Chief Executive of the States, a review of officer involvement. I endorse this approach wholeheartedly: I will fully support and willingly participate in...

Review of Competition and Regulatory Policy

I am this morning publishing a major independent review of Jersey’s competition and regulatory framework. The economics consultancy Oxera was commissioned to undertake a review that would identify whether there are changes that could be made to the Island’s competition and regulatory framework. The review took into account the context within which the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority (JCRA) operates, and focussed on securing better outcomes for local consumers and the Jersey economy. The JCRA was initially established by the States of Jersey in 2001 as an independent regulatory authority for the telecommunications industry. Postal services then became a regulated sector in 2004, and the States enacted the Competition (Jersey) Law in 2005. Professor Sir John Vickers, who acted as an adviser to Oxera on this review, has expressed the view that it is just as important for markets in a small island economy to work well as it is for markets in larger economies. He added that, to achieve this, it is necessary to recognise that competition policy is not just the task of the competition authority but also that of Government. He also observed that, while it is hard to conduct competition and regulatory policy well and that there are particular challenges in a small jurisdiction, the economic benefits can be substantial. The report identifies that, while there are benefits in maintaining the current structure, there is a perception that the JCRA is not as effective as it should be. Themes emerging from stakeholders include the need for there to be better communication from the Authority, better coordination on policy between the States and the JCRA, and a...

Low inflation is further positive new about our economy

Latest Inflation figures published by Stats office are 0.1% is lower than expected. Underlying inflation as measured by RPIX is the lowest on record (since 2000). This is encouraging. Fuel bills, fares/travel, motoring, household goods, clothing and food prices all lower than in June and all (except fares and travel) below what they were in September 2014. Lower commodity prices leading to lower food and energy prices help boost consumers purchasing power and support economic activity, particularly in a growing economy like that in Jersey. RPI in Jersey is the same as that in the UK on a comparable measure. Jersey RPI is below that in Guernsey in terms of all measures. Consumers are continuing to see the benefits of lower food and energy costs driven down by lower commodity prices drive. There are lower prices in a number of other areas in Jersey too. It’s important inflation remains as low as possible. Government policy is that we want to ensure that inflation has helped to reverse the situation in the post financial crisis years where inflation outstripped earnings to one where earnings increased by more than inflation in the last 3 years. Low inflation is good for competitiveness at a time when the emphasis is on increasing economic growth/creating new employment opportunities. RPI low income and RPI pensioners are 0.0% and -0.6% respectively, showing that all groups are benefitting from low inflation. Continued low inflation compliments other positive economic data releases recently – strong GVA growth in 2014, – strong employment growth in 2015, – real earnings growth in 2015, – confidence is still much improved from the...
Cryptocurrency Regulation and Jersey

Cryptocurrency Regulation and Jersey

There are some some exciting new developing areas in cryptocurrency; firstly, the rapid evolution of cryptocurrency itself. This is both in terms of newer currencies, but also how people are using existing currencies, such as Bitcoin. For example, multi-signatory payment authorisation of up to 20 people only came in in 2012 – which was 4 years after Bitcoin was created. Secondly is the growing need to protect consumers and local businesses from harm and thirdly is the growing need for suitable Regulation. Law enforcement has been tremendously successful around the world in its use of traditional mechanisms and tools to track criminal activities. A clear example from January this year is when US prosecutors seized 28 million dollars of Bitcoins from Silk Road, a website trading in illegal drugs and allegedly facilitating money laundering. However there are limitations to the effectiveness of traditional methods. Centralised regulation must avoid creating a single point of failure into a decentralised network such as cryptocurrency but before any jurisdiction can regulate effectively in this area, we must wait until the technology has evolved enough and is suitably understood. It is important to distinguish the two distinct strands on Cryptocurrency Regulation; the first is the approach towards anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing legislation in this area; the second is any regulation by the financial regulator, which would involve ongoing monitoring and supervision. Jersey has consistently taken a pro-active approach in advancing the worldwide fight against anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing. In the area of cryptocurrencies, this approach will not change. Jersey is committed to introducing an appropriate and proportionate regime and this...
Response to NUT: stand up for education

Response to NUT: stand up for education

The National Union for Teachers in Jersey recently published an advert asking some serious questions to candidates about education. I would therefore like to answer these questions for the record. Question 1: Do you believe the curriculum in Jersey schools should be broad, balanced, inclusive and enriching and not just driven by the need to produce scores in standardised tests? Answer 1: Yes! Question 2: Will you oppose any cutes to education funding and support increased funding where a need is identified? Answer 2: Yes Question 3: Do you agree that we should only employ qualified teachers to teach in Jersey schools? Answer 3: Yes, although I do believe there is also an appropriate role for classroom helpers, to enable teachers to focus their time most effectively. Question 4: Will you support the involvement of all teachers and headteachers in talks and discussions with the States on professional issues and oppose single union deals and secret talks? Answer 4: Yes – my understanding is that the NUT represent only 10% of teachers. It is important that islanders have an understanding of the membership balance of the different unions. More than 80% of teachers in Jersey are members of the NASUWT, which is the union that signed the open and transparent partnership agreement with the States of Jersey – it is unfair to imply there were ‘secret talks’. I would encourage the NUT to work in partnership with government to enable us to do the best for all students in Jersey. Question 5: Will you argue that there should be an entitlement to regular funded professional development training for every...